365 laser cut items in 365 days. I provide the files so you can make your own copies and if you don't have access to a laser then I sell most items too.
Missing an svg file for an item? Have a suggestion for something? msraynsford+website@gmail.com

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Z Controller Software

I've not really written any PC software since I quit my job a year ago and I've quite enjoyed making this little program for the Z controller. I'm pretty much at the final revision so I thought I would describe some of the features.

Firstly and most importantly the software is able to detect the presence of the Z controller. The Z controller is an arduino nano, this means it has a USB to serial chip on it and it can be plugged and unplugged at any point. The PC controller detects removal and arrival of USB devices and uses those notifications to check that the controller is still attached. It gets a list of current serial ports and attempts to open them all one at a time, if successful it pings the device with a "?".  If the Z controller is on the other end of the port it replies with "Z Controller" and the PC knows it has found the device. The status is updated in the square at the top which show green/pink for connected/disconnected but it also gives a tool tip text response too.

The interface was intended to be very straight forward, there are 6 buttons, vertically aligned. The numbers represent how many millimetres the Z axis will move when the button is clicked, the top 3 move the bed upwards, the bottom 3 move the z axis down. This is similar to the way the 3D printers work and inspired by the pronterface controls.

Because this is really going to be used to drop the z axis by a specified amount between cutting layers (allowing for n passes of a thick sheet of material) I added a text box on the bottom which you can enter a specific value in to. The value is parsed to make sure it is a numeric value, again with pink/green qualifiers. The actual value is sent to the controller when you click the Green +Z and -Z arrows.

So if you want the Z axis to drop 2.5mm change the value in the text box and click the down arrow.
The User Interface is designed to be skinny and unobtrusive so it can sit on the computer and not get in the way of Lasercut or CAD package. This means the program can't have a header like a normal window (but it still appears on the taskbar). 

When you hover over the middle white button the cursor changes to arrows, if you click and drag this button you can move the form around to wherever you want it. When you release the button the form stays in that location and it remembers where you left it when the program closes.

A menu system pops up when you right click the middle button, this allows you to close the program but also decide whether the program should be displayed above all the other programs. This means it can stay on top of Lasercut even when Lasercut is running full size. The program also remembers this option when the program closes.

40W Handheld Laser Cutter

My most recent project again has gone up over on Just Add Sharks but it's too good not to at least warn you guys about it.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Custom Z Controller 2

I was expecting to make changes to this device but I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon. I've now made 3 of these devices at peoples requests. I was thinking about how it connects in to the leetro controller and I realised if I connected to the original controller I could duplicate the signals coming from that too. This would allow me to adjust the Z controls using the PAD03 panel the same as before. I can also draw power from the leetro controller so even if the device isn't connected to the PC the whole thing still works.

Custom Z Controller

Lasercut 5.3 has a bit of a slack way of dealing with the z control, you nudge it up and down a bit until it's in the right place according to the height tool. The amount depends on how long you hold the button for. One of our customers wanted to be a bit more specific about how much the Z axis moves, that way they could make 5 passes on their material and drop the Z axis by 1mm each time. So I made them a custom Z axis controller, this one connects to the PC and allows you to send specific mm commands to the Laser cutter. The PC end is a simple interface that allows you to send 0.1, 1 and 10mm commands to the controller, but it also allows you to send a custom distance. (software bundle here)

The PC controller actually detects when the USB serial port of the Arduino is attached and removed and it opens and closes the serial port appropriately, this means you can leave the program open all the time. The laser cutter, softdog dongle and Z controller could also all be attached to the same USB hub so you only need 1 wire running to the laptop while cutting.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Wolf Shield

More shield detailing in the same vein as this pheonix

Also some completed works after latexing

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Suontaka Sword

A guard and pommel for a suontaka style viking sword (I realise the guard is upside down)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Labyrinth Rubber Stamp

By request I made this rubber stamp featuring a labyrinth pattern, my inkpad isn't quite big enough to test it (60mm diameter) but it looks good.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Elucidator Cosplay Sword

This is a cosplay version of the Elucidator Sword, (hopefully that sounded like I knew what I was talking about. It's another Eldritch sword though so I'm sure it'll be awesome when it's done.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Project #3 - Physical Space Invaders Game

After Donkey Kong, Pacman and Lunar Lander we were having a discussion about which other games could be turned in physical versions. So about 6 months ago an idea was forming in my head, more recently I've managed to get all the pieces into the right place to make it happen and my physical version of space invaders was born.

I've document the whole project over on the sharks blog because I've used a Whitetooth laser cutter, a rotary attachment and a break in board.

So you can check out the whole project here

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

@rideworks - Anodised Aluminium

I had a very spur of the moment visit today by Paul from Rideworks. He wanted to know if our machines were capable of engraving his anodised aluminium parts so the best way to find out was to try it. We played around with a few different speeds and settings and we even cut an impromptu jig to align the parts perfectly. The test results are great, in fact the hardest part of the process was the moving of files between our aging laptops.